Category Archives: books

Essays 2021 : sharing homework

The Best American Essays, edited by Kathryn Schulz

First up: The Trayvon Generation, by Elizabeth Alexander, from The New Yorker. In a long, elegiac essay about violence against Blacks, particularly Black males, Alexander also looks at Black grace and creative expression.

Black creativity emerges from long lines of innovative responses to the death and violence that plague our communities. ‘Not a house in the country ain’t packed to its rafters with some dead Negro’s grief,’ wrote Toni Morrison in Beloved, and I am interested in creative emergences from that fact.

Below are two of the videos that Alexander explores.

I am reminded of something Wesley Morris wrote about music.

What you’re hearing [in Black music] that’s so appealing to so many people across all races across time is possibility, struggle, it is strife, it is humor, it is sex, it is confidence.

And

That joy you’re experiencing? is not only contagious, it’s necessary and urgent and irresistible.

Both quotes from the NYTimes podcast, The 1619 Project, Episode 3.

I’m just gonna post these notes on reading here perhaps more for my benefit than yours . . .

In the thirties

A good hearty soup for cold weather includes red beans, rice, and chorizo. I used homemade turkey stock.

Reading Bewilderment by Richard Powers. As you may know, he wrote The Overstory. This new novel features a young boy with issues, pretty severe issues. His widowed father struggles both to manage him and to avoid the pitfalls of diagnosis and medication. Naturally, the best scene so far took place while the two of them were camping (back to trees, in other words).

So far, it’s very, very good.

Too bad I can’t say the same about the week’s news. The SCOTUS decision about the Texas abortion law today released “the stench” that Sonia Sotomayor said it would. Yuck. What a bunch of partisan hacks! California declares itself a sanctuary state for women’s health.

We could write for days about all that is going wrong in this country, but I think I’ll go watch an episode of Top Chef (an old season I haven’t seen). Already watched this week’s installment of Project Runway.

This next Powers’ quote speaks to the moment.

To end on two positive notes: my brother walked 200 feet one day in PT this week; my younger son got an A minus in the writing class he finished today.

Well also: the 1/6 Commission seems to be gaining momentum. Good!

100 yesterday, 97 today

Even mid morning, it was too hot to walk for long. I could’ve kept going, but Finn seemed not into it, which is saying something.

AC cranking, I’ve got the finish line in sight for the reread of Section One of my manuscript. As usual, this puts other reading on hold. I finished Series One of Deb’s Prophets Tango and can’t wait to get to the middle volume. Because I’d read it all before, this read really allowed me to focus on just how good the writing is. The writing is really so good.

https://videos.files.wordpress.com/mV6NJMLm/img_8546.mp4

It’s the smoke

Been tired this week after lunch. In the morning, I’ll make a couple calls, walk the dog. Then do a little gardening and write for a couple of hours. Then all I want to do is sleep.

A friend said, “It’s the smoke.” The Bootleg Fire. Canadian fires. You can’t really see anything here, but others nearby have noticed.

Almost done with the Durrow novel. Protagonist, Rachel, is the daughter of a Danish woman and a Black GI. Father takes off and entire rest of family (except Rachel) dies after a fall off a nine story building. We read to find out whether it was murder or suicide. We read to see how this biracial girl grows up with her Black grandmother, trying to understand herself and her world (first Chicago, then Oregon — Portland, I think). We read to see how Rachel will make peace with her past.

I’m reading it on my kindle reader in the phone so I can tell you I have roughly 23 minutes left. I guess I’ll go finish the story.

Update: it turns out I only had about five minutes left of reading, which is too bad because it means that the BIG moment we’d been waiting for came and went too quickly.

Rain, dream, and caution

Fell asleep to the sound of rain: lovely! Better yet, I slept til morning!

Dream fragment: I am reading a book called The Narrows. I woke with the words on my tongue. The Narrows. Rocked my spine a little before rising, as I do. The Narrows.

Right now I’m in a CVS parking lot, waiting. Out of an abundance of caution, I decided to get a post-trip Covid test. Travel went well enough but why worry?

Walking out to a world drenched by the night’s rain was a real treat! Ours is a June garden. After two weeks away, the lush tangle of it well and truly pleased. Pix later.

Waiting for results and lo! Found out that the American writer Ann Petry wrote a book called, The Narrows. I have only recently heard of her — maybe five months ago — when her novel The Street was recommended to me. I don’t remember hearing about The Narrows. Perhaps I should read it! Another exclamation point!

* test results: NEGATIVE